Reel Reviews | Jojo Rabbit

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

Who knew that we needed a Nazi romantic-comedy?  Well, that’s what you get with Jojo Rabbit.

A lonely German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) who is so dedicated to the Nazi party that he has Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) as his imaginary friend spends his days trying to train for the Nazi army in a Nazi youth camp.  One day, Jojo discovers that his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) has hidden a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic.  After Jojo’s first actual encounter with a Jewish person, he must now confront all of his Nazi beliefs and discover what is truly important to him in the world.

Based on the novel “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens, Jojo Rabbit is written and directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok).  It stars Davis, Waititi, Johansson, and McKenzie along with Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, and Stephen Merchant. 

In his first acting performance, Roman Griffin Davis is given the charge to be the lead actor of the movie.  Surrounded by incredible talents like Johansson and Rockwell and including director, writer, and actor Waititi, Davis is more than adequate in this role.  He does an excellent job of carrying the movie on his shoulders.  He shows a great range of emotions as the Nazi boy-next-door.  It’s a great debut for this youngster.

More than likely, actor/director Waititi has a major hand in Davis’ success.  Waititi’s script, not surprisingly, is very clever.  The whole concept of an adolescent romantic comedy about a boy who wants to be a leader in the Nazi party sounds like a tone-deaf, train-wreck of Birth of Nation proportions but it is actually an intelligent and sweet story with heart the size of Germany both east and west united.  Waititi has a unique vision for comedy, a trademark from his work on Hunt for the Wilderpeople which got him hired for the Marvel Studios gig, Thor: Ragnarok.  This film cements his tongue-in-cheek, chaotically madcap comedic style.  After all, how can you take seriously a dressed as Hitler while he is directing you through your work? (Rumors were that Waititi stayed in character while he directed the movie.)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence and language, Jojo Rabbit is an unexpected and welcome comedy landmine in a sea of Oscar seriousness.  Waititi is slowly developing a reputation for having must-see films this one included.  Jojo is simply one of the best of the year!

Grade:  A